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Literature / The Lumatere Chronicles

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One day, acclaimed Australian author Melina Marchetta decided to write some High Fantasy. The Lumatere Chronicles was the result. Book one, Finnikin of the Rock, was published in 2009 and met rave reviews. The sequel, Froi of the Exiles, was released just before the summer of 2012, and the final book, Quintana of Charyn, was released in 2012.

Please note that the summaries for latter books can and will contain spoilers for earlier books.

Book one starts with a prologue explaining how It was the best of times in Lumatere. The kingdom was safe, wealth was abundant, and the people were happy. Finnikin of the Rock, son of Trevanion, leader of the King's Guard and best friend of both Prince Balthazar and Lucien, heir to the Monts, forms a pact with them to protect the kingdom- and is forced to watch as his entire life collapses: the royal family is murdered, the Forest Dwellers are slaughtered, an impostor king takes the throne, Finnikin's father is thrown into jail on accounts of treason and his beloved wife is executed. Angered by the carnage, Seranonna of the Forest Dwellers proclaims a dark curse, trapping the people of Lumatere inside. All that remains are a pair of bloody little handprints on the kingdom's door, presumably those of Bathalzar, the lost prince.


Fast-forward ten years, and we have the events of book one. The people who managed to escape Lumatere before Seranonna's curse are forced to live as exiles in refugee camps scattered throughout the continent. Finnikin and his teacher, Sir Topher, travel the continent in the hopes of procuring land for the exiles. One day, they're summoned to a camp of acolytes and are told that the novice Evanjalin can lead them to the lost prince Balthazar, but what they don't know is that Evanjalin's motives might not be as clear as they seem..

In book two, Froi, now fiercely loyal to Finnikin and Queen Isaboe, as well as a full-fledged citizen of the newly restored Lumatere, must travel to Charyn, the nation whose leaders originally orchestrated the assassination of the Lumateran royal family and the Bastard King's ascension to the throne. There, he meets the mad princess, Quintana, and comes to learn of dark secrets hidden in his blood.


Book three follows Froi, Arjuro, Lirah, Gargarin and Quintana as they attempt to put things to rights: Charyn is on the brink of civil war, Quintana and her unborn child are missing, Lumatere are out to kill Gargarin and Froi, torn between the people he loves and the people he owes his allegiance to, has no idea how to proceed...

The Lumatere Chronicles provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Action Girl: Finnikin is rather shocked to discover this side of Evanjalin.
    • Quintana, and how.
  • Adult Fear: Lirah gives birth to a boy, passes out and wakes up with a baby girl. The poor woman freaks out, understandably.
  • Ax-Crazy: Quintana. To be fair, considering what she grew up with, it's hard to blame her.
  • A Wizard Did It: Ingeniously averted. To explain in detail would be ridiculously spoiler-laden, but Marchetta provides a detailed explanation as the the importance of Finnikin's sacrificing his flesh to the rock, Seranonna's curse, how Beatriss survived, and Evanjalin's ability to see people's dreams and connection to Finnikin's stepsister Vestie.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Quintana murders her father.
  • Children Are Innocent: Oh, Vestie. Despite being called an abomination because people are convinced that she was the result of Lady Beatriss being raped by a Charynite, when the curse on Charyn ensures that it was a Lumateran traitor who did so, you're still loved and you still love others.
    • Hell, Tesadora and Isaboe took a lot of care to make sure she remained innocent, walking the sleep with her and protecting her from the horrors they saw.
  • The Chosen One: Tariq of Lascow practically radiates this. He's not.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Sagrami is considered a dark, evil goddess, and her worshippers are considered to be involved with dark magic. However, the Goddess Sagrami is just as good as the Goddess Lagrami. In fact, towards the end of the first book it's realised that they're actually two halves of the same goddess; it's theorised that the patriarchal society of times gone past originally did this as a means of diminishing the Goddess' power and influence over them
  • Dead Guy Junior: Froi names his and Quintana's son Tariq.
    • Isaboe's daughter is named Jasmina, after one of her sisters.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Arjuro.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Lirah.
  • Determinator: Evanjalin. She sees her family murdered, is forced to leave her brother Balthazar to be mauled by the Silver Wolf along with the assassin who killed their parents, spends years in a vow of silence, is also forced to watch the horrific nightmares of her people, two nights of which caused another woman's hair to go white, endure distrust from her people, keep her identity as Princess Isaboe hidden from Finnikin, the man she loves, and endure years of brutal work as a slave, but she JUST WON'T GIVE UP!
    • Beatriss, who was repeatedly raped and tortured by Charynites as a example to everyone else when she was trapped inside Lumatere, but never, ever gave up being there for her people, to the point that she would replant every crop, no matter how many times they were burned.
  • Do Wrong, Right: Froi sneaks into Quintana's room at night several times, and each time she greets him by trying to stab him, thinking he's an assassin. His response is to get annoyed and show her how to kill a man in five seconds.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Oh dear God.
  • Fantastic Racism: There's a lot of this towards the Lumateran exiles, but the people of Charyn are the worst.
    • The Lumaterans also wind up playing this trope straight, showing that their people are not as innocent as their leaders would like to believe.
    • Interestingly, Tesadora of the Forest Dwellers, initially introduced as bitter and traumatized, is among the first to understand that the common people of Charyn are not to be blamed for what happened and showing disdain towards them is hypocrisy. She also cuttingly reminds some of the other Lumateran characters that the Imposter King was just as much Lumateran as he was Charynite.
  • Females Are More Innocent: Kind of. The overwhelming majority of villains in the books are men, and the worst of them are rapists as well as murderers; however, as noted above, Tesadora doesn't dismiss the fact that women can be just as bad (at least in some areas), only we never quite see it. It's very likely the main reason that there aren't any female rapists isn't because they don't exist, but because of the context - those who commit the deed are men given high levels of power and authority (whether in the army, or in the palace of Charyn, or in the prison system, etc.), and the society they live in does enable women to become as corrupted by the ugly use of power. The one major female villain we do get, the Soothsayer, is a particularly loathsome old woman who has a backstory role in torturing the child Quintana on the Charynite King's orders.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Quintana and Phaedra.
  • Foreshadowing: In the second book, Froi mentions that in Sarnak, people run their personal name and the name of where they're from together to make new names. Dafar + Abroi = Froi.
    • Froi teaches Quintana to kill a man in five seconds as a way of defence against an assassin. Quintana learned very well, as her father found out...
  • For Want of a Nail: Perri is sent to get Beatriss to a place of safety before the unspeakable. Instead, he goes to warn Tesadora. It's honestly hard to say what the right choice was.
  • Freudian Excuse/Does Not Like Men: Justified and played with through Seranonna's daughter, Tesadora, who didn't escape the kingdom and was forced to watched as the enclave she lived in- as well as just about everywhere else- was raided by the impostor king's men, who then... Well, some fathers of Lumatere were more willing to let their daughters die then have them suffer through what the impostor king's men would do. However, she states that if she were placed in a room with the women who sided with the Bastard King's men, there would be a bloodbath.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Finnikin flips his shit after Isaboe wakes up and says Froi's name in the third book. He instantly concludes that they had an affair, despite there being absolutely no evidence of this, and has a cruel argument with her about it.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: Quintana loves dogs, especially puppies.
  • Info Dump: Be prepared for very detailed explanations of what happened inside Lumatere while the Exiles were wandering the earth and what really happened when the royal family was murdered towards the end of the book.
  • Mama Bear: Lady Beatriss. Don't insult her kids. She'll make you pay.
  • Meaningful Name: Froi's original name was 'Dafar of Abroi'- 'Dafar' meaning 'nothing' and 'Abroi' being a town full of inbred hicks that nobody wants anything to do with, the idea being that he was meant to be as inconspicuous as possible.
  • Meaningful Rename: Isaboe became Evanjalin, which was the name of Trevanion's mother.
  • Mercy Kill: Finnikin killed Seranonna, who was sentenced to die by being burned at the stake. He originally thought he was going to kill Beatriss, but changed the plan when Seranonna did the same.
    • At first, we're told that Lirah tried to kill baby Quintana, knowing what would happen to her in the future. What actually happened was that that Quintana ordered Lirah to drown them both so that they could see the Oracle and Lirah's son.
  • Not Quite Dead: Evanjalin is actually Isaboe.
    • Phaedra didn't die of plague.
  • Not So Different: Quintana and Isaboe.
  • The Ophelia: Quintana.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Froi goes into Charyn under the guise of 'Olivier of Sebastabol', a lastborn. Froi barely knows anything about Charyn, looks nothing like Olivier and has no idea how to act like a lastborn. The only thing that saves him is the real Olivier being 'detained' and the fact that nobody in the palace knows what Olivier actually looks like.
  • Parental Incest: Lirah's mother was also her sister.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Lucian and Phaedra.
  • Prophecy Twist: Finnikin spent a lot of time believing that he and Lucian made the pact with Balthazar to put him back on the throne. Balthazar's dead, the pact got redirected to the last living member of the royals, Isaboe- Evanjalin.
    • The prophecy in Charyn states that 'the last will make the first'- that is, a lastborn boy will have sex with the lastborn girl (and lastborn child), Quintana, and break the curse by getting her pregnant. Everyone thinks it's Tariq of Lascow, the king's heir. It's not. It's Froi, the lost lastborn of the Citavita.
  • Properly Paranoid: Quintana.
  • The Quiet One: Phaedra.
  • Rape as Backstory: Froi, Quintana, Lirah, and a bunch of others.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: A major theme of the books. Book two also introduces the idea that sex, when mutually consented, is something very sacred.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Quintana.
  • Ship Tease: Loads and loads of them between Finnikin and Evanjalin. They get married at the end of the book and have a three-year-old girl by Froi of the Exiles.
    • Froi and Quintana. It works out beautifully.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: Gargarin and Lirah for each other.
    • Froi and Quintana, likewise.
  • So Beautiful It's a Curse: Dear God, poor Lirah.
  • Split Personality: Quintana- except that it's not a personality, it's the spirit of her dead sister. It doesn't last.
  • Sterility Plague: Charyn has been suffering from one for eighteen years. It affects every Charynite and every part-Charynite, no matter where they are.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: In book two, Finnikin has a daughter who supposedly looks very similar to his mother.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: After first meeting Froi, Finnikin realises that he's Lumateran, though he's obviously young enough that he's probably forgotten his childhood in Lumatere, and Froi never denies it (though he never actually agrees). After the ensuing clusterfuck, Froi willingly goes with them to Lumatere and ends up living there with them. Except that he's not Lumateran at all. In fact, he doesn't have a drop of Lumateran blood in him. He's a pure Charynite who lived in Sarnak for years.
  • Walking the Earth: What Finnikin and friends spend much of book one doing.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Olivier sells out Froi and the others, believing that Bestiano is the best bet for a good king.
  • Wham Line: For the Lumaterans, in book two: "Have they not told you? Your captain and his men? It's part of our curse. We've not birthed a child in Charyn for eighteen years."
    • "Then I ask why Lirah is imprisoned." "For an attempted murder." "Who?" "Her daughter."
    • "Isaboe?"
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Quintana is terrified of water.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Naturally, once the exiles return, it's not as simple as just settling back in. The impostor and his men setting everything on fire was part of it, to start...


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